Dolphins call each other by "name"

 

Image of bottlenose dolphin pod from www.deography.com, take by Dylan O'Donnell 2010 Image of bottlenose dolphin pod from www.deography.com, Dylan O'Donnell 2010

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences provides evidence that bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) use "signature whistles" to identify and call each other by "name".  

Dr. Vincent Janik at the Scottish Oceans Institute, University of St. Andrews and colleagues recorded the individual whistles of wild bottlenose dolphins traveling in groups (pods). Using the recordings, they developed computerized versions of the whistles that were missing the vocal characteristics of the individual they came from. They then played back these synthetic whistles to see if anyone responded. The thinking was that if the dolphin that whistled responded, then they indeed recognized the pattern of the whistle as opposed to their own voice. In other tests, they recorded non-signature whistles from the same pod to see if group members recognized each other's voices as well as unfamiliar voices from other pods.

What they discovered was that dolphins did in fact respond to their signature whistle. Often the dolphins would approach the boat upon hearing their "name" called. It is thought that this behaviour may help lost dolphins find their pod. The dolphins did not respond to non-signature whistles or whistles from other pods.

Source:

Janik VM, Sayigh LS, Wells RS. Signature whistle shape conveys identity information to bottlenose dolphins. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 103(21): 8293-8297, 2013.

More like this

When MSNBC fired Keith Olbermann and replaced him with Lawrence O'Donnell, I was a bit annoyed. But now that Olbermann had crashed and burned over at Current TV, and O'Donnell has turned into a pretty effective pundit, I have changed my mind. For an example of why I like O'Donnell so much,…
The latest attempt by the climate auditors to smear a scientist comes from Ryan O'Donnell who accused Eric Steig of "blatant dishonesty and duplicity". According to O'Donnell, as an anonymous reviewer Steig forced O'Donnell to use a particular method ('iridge') in his analysis and then, as himself…
Video is not Christine O'Donnell's friend — every time she opens her mouth she exposes her ugly, ignorant side. The latest faux pas comes from here performance in a debate with her opponent in which she reveals she hasn't read the first amendment, and is surprised by what's in it. Here's the…
Well? I wish I could give you the video right now. It is just before six o'clock central time, and the discussion on MSNBC just got interesting. Interesting enough that some of you are going to want to write letters to make sure the producers don't do the wrong thing... Stay tuned!!! Oh, the…